Luis Núñez Ladevéze
Catedrático en Periodismo
55th FIJET CONGRESS IN Marocoo
World Federation of Travel Journalists and Writers
Though having famous precedents, the practice of “tourism” has not become a collective habit until the world has become a global society, connected by the media. Long time ago, perhaps not in such remote times, there have been famous tourists. They used to belong to the high class, to blood, money or cultural aristocracy. Mary Godwin wrote Frankenstein while she was practicing tourism at the Genève Lake. John Keats left for Italy to cure his lungs. Frederik Chopin lived in Mallorca before destroying his. Washington Irving adopted the bewitching of the Alhambra as a topic for his tales. Gordon Bennet Jr. made Paris the capital of his sports adventures.
There have always been pedestrians and nomads in all times since we were expelled from Paradise. Cain represents the type of traveler who never comes back to his origin. Throughout the years, many have followed his example. They left and never went back. However, in a universal society, tourists have become both a distinguished and popular species. They belong to those who leave and soon return to their starting point. They are the living metaphor of the fact that the world turns out to be more accessible for everybody as it becomes more agglutinating and global.
Tourists are a friendly and exclusive contribution from the global society. They promote the interchange among men, nature and culture. They humbly admit that their environment is limited. They appreciate what is not theirs as if it were of their own. They admire the qualities of the neighboring men; they are ready to understand different mentalities. Tourism grows from relying in those who are different. It rises from admitting that one’s habitat is small and, that, for a curious soul, it is well worth completing it with knowledge and experience from what is beyond one’s place. They are invited to the journey by the necessity to expand their narrow horizon and the savoring other sceneries that will enrich the limited experience of their ordinary life.
As in any deal, tourism is also as advantageous for those who offer it as for those who receive it. Touristic exchanges replace the wish for domination of the powerful for the Epicurean excitement of moving. It makes ones’ own what belongs to others without mastering it. It provides interest for keeping relations, grows with friendliness, develops with understanding, makes courtesy a common quality and becomes prosperous with good intentions.
Tourists are generous visitors assimilating what is worthy and valuable in every circumstance. This trading activity combines sensitive and contemplative delectation was originated in an illustrated society. Romantics were the pioneers, aesthetic aristocrats, adventurer poets, or both things. Baroness Stein used to receive letters from Goethe at Weimar, when he was in Italy in the same way as many people who have moved from the East to the West receive cards from tourists visiting Rome. As in all businesses in a consumer society, the pleasure of the heights ends by diluting in ordinary people’s hobbies.
The result of Communication with what is different; the touristic transit opens the physical route to global Communication when virtual Communication was not predictable yet. A recent phenomenon, the threshold of globalization, it evidences that curiosity and human contact can overcome the barriers built by the greed of power and bellicose impulse to domination of some over the others. It is true that, before the existence of tourists, there were already travelers pushed by their cognitive anxiety, the interest for communicating and enquiring in exchange for nothing but visual enjoyment and contact with the environment.
These and other precedents show that the touristic experience has a private, exclusive and selective origin. If they are considered as antecedents, they prove that if good things have restricted access in their beginning, they are democratic when they become the object of industry or commerce. Following Lucretius, Wouldn’t we like to repeat: “I like discovering untouched fountains and drink from them; I like collecting recent flowers and look for an elegant garland for my forehead where no one had collected them before”? But this has been a pleasure for a few, when the world was too wide and poets used to sing to the golden age. As far as tourism is concerned, the idea that what is good spreads by itself is not only true but allows to value touristic traffic as the feature most democratically spread and beneficial of globalization, be it material or virtual.
Tourism is a personal choice open from a few to all. The business calls individuals to share it with majorities. Instead of traffic of goods, the tourist voluntarily becomes in object of traffic. Its wish does not despise its condition of person but elevates him to taste an experience restricted to a few up to now. It started as a hobby for some privileged, not those forced by adversity. Cain may have well been the first tourist in history if he had not been forced to travel because of the incompatibility of its conscience to live with his family. His departure contributes to the confusion of languages. Both Adam and Eve were also cast form Paradise against their will. They were expelled for God’s anger, not for the wish for adventure or ambition in knowledge. The tourist washes Cain’s sin by travelling for his own desire. It is a remedy to Adam’s malediction coming back to its starting point and manages to create a universal language by incorporating gestures, signs, moods and rituals that observes and spells in the Babelian fragmentation.
Touristic moving comes from the trend to discover an unknown landscape and culture, led by the interest for what is different and the pleasure of variety. No political or ideological reason is behind it and cannot be compared with the proposal of promoting an alliance among civilizations. It is not an artificial contact responding to a plan or a scheme. Alliances have a goal, need to be promoted by an individual and are focused on a program whose promoters share. As tourism is a spontaneous movement, it is not related to a previous project. It is, in itself, evidence that the coexistence of civilizations is possible without the need of imposing it, conventions or programmed adjustments. It does not express an alliance but it does show the feasibility of dialogue among people living in different cultures. The exchange of ideas and ways of living has become an everyday fact through the experience of contact among people who connect separate worlds, without the need of being promoted by political plans or ideological impositions, thanks to tourism.
A trip which was only accessible for privileged people has now become a practice at the reach of any. Touristic activities have exceeded all frontiers, enhanced by the proximity that the mass media offer. We can all become accidental tourists in a part of a common world where distances have disappeared while some are determined to increase discrepancies among identities when communication and tourism are reducing them.
Thanks to globalization, as a result of technological innovation in communications and transport, the incommensurable sphere has evolved to a measurable world, less reluctant and more familiar, less hostile and more passable than what it was in the past. The extraordinary, once limited to a scarce number of pioneers is now at the reach of the ordinary man. The tourist is the usual passenger of this surrounded world. There are no longer places whose distance may make its access to it.
The most remote is searched because it has been previously felt as familiar. Tourism has made coexistence among human beings closer and shared. There is nothing beyond the limits. Tourism will find anything existing in the world.
Luis Núñez Ladevéze Piar Canal Yubero FIJET España
 LUCRECIO. De rerum natura. Liber quartus 2-5.